NOW with Alex Wagner | January 23, 2013
>>> he wants to put every private personal firearms transaction right under the thumb of the federal government , and he wants to keep all of those names in a massive federal registry. there's only two reasons for a federal list on gun owners , to either tax them or take them. it's the only reason.
>> the return of wayne lapierre . the nra vice president offered a rebuttal to president obama 's inaugural address , speaking from las vegas on the same day that a shooting in a texas college put the campus on lockdown and wounded three. in addition to attacking the president's proposal for universal background checks , incidentally supported by 9 out of 10 americans , lapierre took issue with this line out of the president's speech.
>> for now, time is upon us and we cannot afford delay. we cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics or treat name calling as reasoned debate.
>> a call for an end to ideological intransigence and refusals to compromise was in wayne lapierre 's estranged distorted view on an attempt to deface the constitution.
>> obama wants to turn the idea of absolutism into a dirty word , just another word for extremism. he wants you, all of you, and americans throughout all of this country, to accept the idea of principles as he sees fit. when absolutes are abandoned for principles, the u.s. constitution becomes a blank slate for anyone's graffiti.
>> just to clarify, absolutism, good. principles, bad. hugo, every time wayne lapierre comes out, i think he can't possibly top what he said last time, and yet --
>> that's the best you've seen from wayne lapierre .
>> when you stand on principles, the u.s. constitution becomes a blank slate that you can deface with your own ideological graffiti.
>> right, sort of gets the urban blight kind of spectacle there, people coming at you.
>> loaded metaphors.
>> right, right.
>> we were talking about this during the break, this, apparently, is a working strategy for the nra .
>> it's working for wayne lapierre , too. that's what's incredible. it is -- it rings strange and weird, you know, to me, but, obviously, as maggie and i were discussing, it seems to be effective for his membership and they wield an awful lot of power, despite being a minority opinion.
>> when you look at the background checks , 9 out of 10 americans support that. there are a lot of people in the nra , but 90% of the country is not in the nra . so where is the disconnect here, is it just because the nra has more money or is better organized? i do think there's been an infliction point since newtown, sam.
>> part of what the nra has been very effective at is creating a boogey man obama , this is what he's going to do. what wayne lapierre was talking about there, the federal database, i'm pretty sure that's not in the president's proposal to have a federal database of every gun that's owned. he does want to do background checks , but there's things obama could have done that he didn't, such as constricting the sales of guns one to a week. if we're talking about absolutisms, we have to ask, does wayne lapierre support no background checks , is he comfortable with mentally insane people buying grenade launchers? i don't think anyone, including virtually all of the nra membership, is comfortable with no regulations whatsoever, but that's what wayne lapierre , i thought, was saying last night.
>> what is strange to me and somewhat disconcerting, it's not just wayne lapierre that is forwarding this kind of language. this is an e-mail from mitch mcconnell to his supporters. "dear patriot, you and i are literally surrounded. the gun grabbers in the senate are about to launch an all-out assault on the second amendment. my friend, our freedom is on direct assault. from those who want to shred our constitution, and as our good friend rand paul from connecticut says, from those who want to be king." it's worth noting that was written by jesse benton, who used to work for rand paul. that's incredible incendiary rhetoric from mitch mcconnell . who's up for reelection in 2014 and probably gets a lot of money from the nra .
>> yes, fair, this is a campaign e-mail. but he's also in charge of legislating, saying he wants to shred the constitution, grab the guns, and wants this is the kind of danger ous rhetoric. if you listen to what lapierre was saying last night, and i'll admit it was hard. he totally distorted what the president was actually talking about, right, and that's what the nra does so well, sort of twisting and distorting and creating this hysteria. the president's point, if you listen to the whole quote, we can't not try. we can't perfect be the enemy of the good. the irony of that, the argument from the nra has been all the recommendations the president put out wouldn't have stopped newtown, so why are we doing that, but i tell you what, they might have stopped the shooter yesterday at the community college in houston.
>> gun owners , you know, they are very sincere people. i've talked to a bunch of them at these shows. they generally love the ability to own firearms and it's totally sincere. what motivates them more than anything else is the concept of the government coming in and telling them what they can and cannot do. what wayne lapierre is doing is essentially playing on the pri primal fear for a political purpose.
>> how much that eats up ground for compromise, saying harry reid is probably going to bring this to the floor of the senate, which allows everybody to sort of add and take away what they don't like. maggie , in terms of being bullish or bearish on measurable gun safety reform, which one are you?
>> i'm pretty bearish. i do think there's a chance there will be something, but i don't know how close it will be to what the president would like it to be. i think there's a chance where you could have republicans say, see, we were reasonable on this, we were standing up to the nra , but it will not include, you know, serious items that democrats would like to see. it's possible.
>> i think maggie 's correct, and i think the issue is that there's not just one bill to pass. if you're serious about gun control in this country, this is a fight that's going to take years and years. it looks like what's going to come out of this is going to be modest at best.
>> we shall see.
>>> coming up after the break, wow, beyonce it ain't so is lip syncing the inaugural anthem. a pop star fail? we will debate just ahead.